Maira emphasized that Aqua Ion is not an alternative to Web content providers supporting IPv6 directly. "We still want our customers to support IPV6 on their own infrastructure," he added. "This is not a replacement for IPv6, but it does help them in terms of managing the upgrade process and making sure they have performance during the transition from IPv4 to IPv6."
Akamai has measured the performance of Aqua Ion for a handful of beta customers including an e-commerce company that more than doubled the number of customers receiving website response rates of under two seconds.
Aqua Ion is available immediately as an add-on to Akamai's Dynamic Site Accelerator service.
Maira concedes that a small share of Akamai's customers care about IPv6 performance right now, particularly U.S. federal government agencies under a mandate to support IPv6 and high-tech companies.
"Right now, IPv6 represents less than half of 1% of the traffic across our entire network," Maira said. "But we're huge IPv6 proponents. We need this to scale the Internet, and at Akamai we are a company that needs a lot of IP space. So running out of IPv4 space or IPv4 space being dear is not good for Akamai. We want to help our customers get the majority of the Internet IPv6-enabled because it unlocks a ton of possibilities for us."
IPv6 is an upgrade to the Internet's addressing scheme, which was created 40 years ago using a protocol known as IPv4. IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses and can support a virtually limitless number of devices: 2 to the 128th power. IPv6 is necessary because the Internet is running out of IPv4 addresses. However, IPv6 is not backward compatible with IPv4, requiring network operators to support both protocols at an added cost.
Read more about lan and wan in Network World's LAN & WAN section.